Hyperpigmentation is the name for dark spots that accumulate on the skin as a result of sun exposure or hormonal changes. It is a harmless condition that occurs when excess melanin forms deposits under the skin – it doesn’t hurt and it’s not dangerous, but it can be unsightly. Turns out, the best way to combat hyperpigmentation is good old vitamin C. While eating foods rich in vitamin C can help, it is more effective to use a serum topically. We have done the research and collected five of the best vitamin C serums for hyperpigmentation available today. You’ll be on your way to even, glowing skin in no time.
- What C Can Do for Skin
- Choosing the Right Serum
- Ingredients to Look for in a Vitamin C Serum
- How to Use Vitamin C Serum
- TOP 5 Best Vitamin C Serum for Hyperpigmentation 2020
- 1 Hecmoks 2-Pack Vitamin C Serum for Face - Organic Anti Wrinkle Reducer Formula for Face - Topical Facial Serum with Hyaluronic Acid & Vitamin E, 2 fl oz./ 60ml
- 2 Vitamin C Serum for Face - Anti Aging Facial Serum
- 3 LilyAna Naturals Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid for Face and Eyes - Organic Skin Care with Natural Ingredients for Acne, Anti Wrinkle, Anti Aging, Fades Age Spots and Sun Damage - 1 OZ
- 4 TruSkin Vitamin C-Plus Super Serum, Anti Aging Anti-Wrinkle Facial Serum with Niacinamide, Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid, and Salicylic Acid, 1 oz
- 5 InstaNatural Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid & Vit E - Natural & Organic Anti Wrinkle Reducer Formula for Face - Dark Circle, Fine Line & Sun Damage Corrector - Restore & Boost Collagen - 1 oz.
- Storing Vitamin C Serum
- Vitamin C Serum Side Effects
- Causes of Hyperpigmentation
What C Can Do for Skin
Vitamin C is effective in skin care because it is one of the most powerful antioxidants around. Not only does it fight skin-damaging free radicals, but it can also lighten dark pigmentation and increase collagen production. You can additionally use vitamin C serum for acne scars.
Applying a vitamin C serum to your face provides targeted treatment. When you ingest it, the effects are spread out around the body.
Choosing the Right Serum
It’s important to understand that vitamin C is an unstable substance in its purest form, so buying the cheapest product is likely to be a waste of money because it won’t last very long before oxidizing. Once that happens, the product is unusable. (You will know when your serum has oxidized because it will have turned from clear to brownish.)
In better formulations, the vitamin C is mixed with vitamin E and/or ferulic acid to create a better balance. You will want to choose a product with at least a 10-20% concentration of vitamin C. As you read the label, look for one of the two most common types of it, L-ascorbic acid or tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate.
The available vitamin c serum benefits can be boosted by the addition of supporting ingredients. Common additions include retinol for reducing fine lines and wrinkles, hyaluronic acid for relieving dry skin, and salicylic acid for combatting breakouts.
Ingredients to Look for in a Vitamin C Serum
You may choose a product with several other active ingredients, depending on your overall goals for skin improvement. To start, you want to look for at least a 10-20% concentration of vitamin C in the form of L-ascorbic acid or tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. However, if combined with appropriate balancing ingredients, a serum with a smaller percentage of vitamin C can still be effective.
Following is a list of helpful things that are frequently found coupled with vitamin C in skin serums.
- Hyaluronic acid
- Vitamin E
- Salicylic acid
- Various botanical extracts
How to Use Vitamin C Serum
Pay attention to the recommended use on whichever product you choose. Depending on the concentration and other ingredients, it may be something to use daily, twice daily, or only a few times per week. One recommendation that is standard across all products, however, is to use it after toner and before moisturizer.
TOP 5 Best Vitamin C Serum for Hyperpigmentation 2020
Vitamin C %
2 fl oz.
2-3 x week up to daily
3.2 fl oz.
1 fl oz.
3.04 fl oz.
2-3 x per week
1.44 fl oz.
For a deeper look, check out our in-depth vitamin C serum reviews.
Hecmoks offers a comprehensive serum in a convenient two-pack that can extend the time between purchases. Because the formula is 25% vitamin C combined with multiple other ingredients, it is stable enough to last for a long time with proper storage.
This serum does an excellent job of preventing and reducing the signs of skin damage via the powerful combo of vitamin C and Retinol. The product also contains vitamin B3 and salicylic acid as well as soothing aloe and rose hip oil to protect and rejuvenate your skin. A finishing touch of pink grapefruit essential oil adds a pleasant scent that wakes up your pores and your brain.
Because it is quite potent, you can get away with using this serum only 2-3 x per week. However, it is also very gentle, allowing for daily use. We recommend using it every day to shorten the time it takes to see results with hyperpigmentation; it can take between 30-60 days of regular use to significantly fade dark spots.
The Hecmoks product is a 100% natural vitamin C serum, with no parabens or artificial dyes and fragrances. The product is certified vegan and cruelty-free.
2 bottles of 2 fl oz. each
Hyaluronic acid, retinols, vitamin C, vitamin E, salicylic acid, collagen, niacinamide, and botanical extracts including aloe vera, rose hips, and pink grapefruit.
- Convenient 2-pack
- Gentle yet powerful
- Shows results in just a couple of weeks
- The amount of retinol is quite small
- Product could oxidize before it is all used if you don’t apply it daily
- High concentration of vitamin C can cause skin tingling.
This vitamin C serum from Tree of Life is designed to make skin feel fresher and softer while it improves the appearance of sun damaged skin over time. Use it as a preventative for fine lines and wrinkles as well as treatment for hyperpigmentation.
Tree of Life boasts a proprietary blend with the highest form of active, bio-available vitamin C available. It offers up to 8-fold antioxidant protection and 96% reduction in sunburn cell damage. Use this vitamin C serum for dark spots, but know that it will help you achieve the perfect moisture balance as well.
Additional ingredients are vitamin E, jojoba oil, and witch hazel, all natural for an entirely organic vitamin c serum. The product is paraben-free and 100% vegan and cruelty free. Made in the USA, Tree of Life serum also comes with a satisfaction guarantee. You may want to couple your vitamin C serum with the company’s retinol blend for truly youthful vibrancy.
One thing to note about this product is that it uses an unusual form of vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate) and that the concentration hovers around 5%.
3.2 ounce bottle
Aqua (Deionized Water), Glycerin (Kosher, Vegetable), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Organic Aloe), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Hamamelis Virginiana Water (Witch Hazel), Dimethyl Sulfone (Msm), Xanthan Gum, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil (Organic Jojoba), Hydrolyzed Caesalpinia Spinosa Gum (Tara), Sclerotium Gum, Caesalpinia Spinosa Gum (Tara), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.
- Nice large bottle
- Absorbs instantly into skin
- Water-based formula does not leave a greasy residue
- No added scent allows the slightly unpleasant odor of vitamin C to come through
- May be too much product to use before oxidation
- Retinol serum must be purchased separately
This high-potency serum from LilyAna Naturals features a 20% concentration of vitamin C along with a 5% concentration of hyaluronic acid. It is guaranteed to brighten your skin tone as well as boost collagen production and produce a visible improvement to overall appearance.
The vitamin E included works in tandem with vitamin C to tackle hyperpigmentation, fade scars, and reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. You can use this serum all over your face or as a spot corrector. It is also great for eliminating dark circles under the eyes.
You will get a product that has maximum prescription strength effectiveness but is still non-comedogenic and gentle enough to be used on sensitive skin up to twice a day. There is no oily residue sticky feel with this product. It absorbs quickly and fully.
LilyAna Naturals products are made in the USA in an FDA registered laboratory. No parabens or artificial colors or fragrances are used. The products are guaranteed to be cruelty-free and vegan, and they come backed by a 100% money back guarantee. Customer service is so responsive that they promise to answer all emails and will refund your purchase price with no questions asked if that’s what you need.
0.96 ounce bottle
Aqua, Botanical Hyaluronic Acid (5%), Vitamin C (20%), MSM, Organic Aloe Leaf Juice, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Vitamin E, Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Gotu Kola Extract, Horsetail Extract, Wild Geranium Extract, Organic Dandelion Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin
- High vitamin C percentage as well as hyaluronic acid
- Lasts 12 months after opening
- Light and refreshing formula
- Smaller sized bottle
- Does not contain retinol
- Some users with sensitive skin found it uncomfortable to use
While many vitamin C serums do not contain retinol, but rather encourage the purchase of a separate retinol product, this one from TruSkin contains both. The vitamin C is at 20% and the retinol at 2.5%, but don’t forget the hyaluronic acid at 5%. This serum is so powerful that you only need to use it 2-3 x per week to see results.
Containing vitamin C, retinol, niacinamide (vitamin B3), botanical hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, and nourishing plant extracts, this serum works both on the surface and deep within your skin to heal damage and create a healthy, youthful complexion.
Like the Hecmoks serum, TruSkin has added a touch of rose hip oil, pink grapefruit oil, and aloe vera to both soothe skin and impart a pleasant fragrance naturally. The formula is great for all skin types because it is as gentle as it is powerful.
All TruSkin products are cruelty-free and never contain parabens, sulfates, GMOs, artificial fragrance, silicones, corn, or soy. They are made in the USA and are backed by a satisfaction guarantee. You have three months to decide if you like the product. If you are unhappy for any reason, simply email the company for a full refund. There will be no questions asked and no need to return the remaining product.
3.04 ounce bottle
Organic Deionized Herbal Infusion*, Organic Aloe, Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate), MSM, Botanical Hyaluronic Acid (Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide), Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Retinol, Olive Oil Squalane, Salicylic Acid, Organic Rosehip Seed Oil, Carbomer, (2s)-2-Amino-5-guanidinopentanoic Acid, Pink Grapefruit Essential Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, Ylang Ylang Essential Oil, Wildcrafted Dandelion, Organic Gotu Kola, Wild Geranium, Wildcrafted Horsetail, Phenoxyethanol, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin.
- Good sized bottle
- Pleasant fragrance
- All-in-one formula
- Retinol can cause breakouts in people with sensitive skin
- May cause stinging or redness; not ideal for daily use
- Some users reported no change to hyperpigmentation
With this product from InstaNatural, you get all the vitamin c serum benefits – dark spot correction, clear pores, and even skin tone. You will also enjoy the way the hyaluronic acid hydrates, replenishes, and plumps your skin from the inside out. The serum helps your skin retain moisture and reveals a smooth complexion.
You can use this product all over your face, but it is also useful as a spot corrector or under eye serum to reduce puffiness and lighten dark circles. Wrinkles and fine lines will disappear with consistent use.
Because the vitamin C is paired with ferulic acid, it is a stable product that shouldn’t oxidize before you can use it all. The addition of sea buckthorn oil also supports the hyaluronic acid in maintaining the skin’s protective barrier. And finally, a unique blend of plant stem cells, botanical extracts, and natural oils rounds out the formula to deliver improved tone and texture.
Use this product daily for best results. Simply massage a small amount onto cleansed and toned skin and wait just a couple of minutes for the serum to absorb completely. Then you can finish up with your favorite moisturizer.
While InstaNatural doesn’t guarantee that every ingredient is completely natural, it does significant research into each addition to ensure that nothing in the serum has any associated health concerns. No animal testing is conducted on any of their products.
1.44 ounce bottle
Aqua, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate**, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Cassia Angustifolia Seed Extract, Globularia Cordifolia Callus Culture Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Fucus Vesiculosus Extract, Punica Granatum Extract, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Algae Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Ferulic Acid*, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer**, Tocopheryl Acetate*, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Centella Asiatica Extract, Equisetum Arvense Extract, Taraxacum Officinale (Dandelion) Extract, Geranium Maculatum Extract, Sodium Hydroxide*, Phenoxyethanol**, Ethylhexylglycerin**.
- Pleasant citrus scent
- Reduces the appearance of scars as well as hyperpigmentation
- Customer service is responsive and hassle-free
- Each bottle may have a different color and consistency
- Some users with sensitive skin experienced red bumps as a result of use
- May leave a slightly sticky residue
Storing Vitamin C Serum
As we’ve mentioned, vitamin C is prone to breaking down when it is exposed to oxygen, heat, or light. In order to make the most of your purchase, proper storage is important. For starters, be certain to immediately close the bottle fully after use.
Vitamin C products are best stored in a cool, dark environment, such as the refrigerator. The worst place to keep your serum is actually the bathroom. The regular changes in heat and humidity will cause your serum to oxidize much faster.
One good strategy to prevent oxidation is to purchase serum that comes in an opaque bottle, so that it is exposed less to light. You can also purchase a couple of small dark colored bottles and separate your serum into multiple containers. This way, only one bottle is being exposed to oxygen on a regular basis as you open and close it for use, while the remainder stays in airtight conditions.
At room temperature, vitamin C serum lasts about 3 months before oxidizing; refrigeration can push that timeline out to 5 months. You will know when your serum has oxidized because the once clear formula will appear brown, red, or orange.
Vitamin C Serum Side Effects
If you are worried about vitamin C serum side effects, you needn’t. Rarely, people do experience skin irritation as a result of using a serum, but the issue could very well stem from other ingredients in the serum other than vitamin C. If your skin is very sensitive, you could be bothered by a serum with greater than 20% vitamin C. A product with 10% or even less vitamin C would be ideal for you in that case.
Causes of Hyperpigmentation
If you already have hyperpigmentation on your face, you need the best vitamin c serum for dark spots – it will do wonders to lighten them up. However, you might be wondering what you can do to avoid further dark spots in the future. To be honest, most causes are things you can’t do anything about, but that doesn’t mean that a smart skincare routine can’t help.
Melasma is the name given to dark spots that occur as a result of hormonal changes during pregnancy. There’s nothing to do to prevent it, short of avoiding pregnancy, and that’s a huge sacrifice if you want children. Melasma often fades slowly after a baby is born, but will likely not go away entirely without treatment. Vitamin C for melasma treatment is one of the most affordable and least invasive methods of lightening those spots.
It is really important to wear a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF whenever you will be exposed to sun. This is the number one thing you can do to prevent hyperpigmentation. Sunburn causes cellular damage that often results in hyperpigmentation because producing melanin is the body’s defense mechanism against intense sun exposure.
There are several types of skin condition that cause inflammation, including acne, burns, and psoriasis. Even certain intense skin treatments can cause it. Often, after the inflammation has receded, hyperpigmentation is left in its wake. You may be able to reduce the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation by managing the underlying condition effectively. However, it is not possible to prevent all breakouts, so don’t blame yourself if you experience PIH.
There is nothing that anyone can do about getting older, but wearing that sunscreen throughout your life can minimize the appearance of lentigines, or liver spots. This form of hyperpigmentation most commonly occurs on the face and hands. It is strongly associated with aging in general, but seems to more obviously affect those older adults who have had considerable exposure to UV rays throughout their lives.
Remember that it takes some time and commitment to your skincare regimen, but a good vitamin C serum will eventually deliver the results you are looking for. You can fade hyperpigmentation away to almost nothing and sport that even, glowing skin tone you desire. Everyone’s skin is unique, however, so there may be some experimentation required to find the best vitamin C serum for hyperpigmentation to work with your particular skin type.
Don’t get discouraged if your first choice isn’t a match – there are five great products to choose from here, all cruelty-free and backed with a satisfaction guarantee. There’s no reason not to try products until you find the skincare solution you’ve been looking for. Clearer skin awaits, so get started today!